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Fire Up the Grill, But Have A Safe, Healthy Cookout
May 31, 2013

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox If you're one of millions of Americans who dusted off their grills for the start of the summer grilling season this week, we have some tips to keep your cookout safe and healthy.

The USDA recommends these four steps: clean, separate, cook and chill. When you are prepping food, make sure you are using clean cutting boards and use separate surfaces for meats and fruits and veggies.

When you are ready to cook, make sure the food reaches a safe temperature.

"It is very important," Cabell Huntington Hospital clinical dietician Tiffany Lockhart said. "You want to get that internal temperature to the right temperature, because even though you're grilling the outside of it and killing the germs there, you want to make sure, whether it be with a meat thermometer, to make sure the internal temperature is cooked thoroughly."

Here is a good model to follow. Ground meat should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Turkey, chicken and hot dogs should be cooked to 165 degrees. Beef, veal, pork, flaky fish and lamb should reach 145 degrees. Most seafood should be cooked until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

Cabell Huntington Hospital cook Alissa Stricker advises not to turn meat too frequently, or it could get tough.

Lockhart said you don't want to leave food sitting out in the hot sun all day "especially creamy foods, like mayonnaise-based foods and things like that."

"Once they've been out for an hour, you need to go ahead and take it in and keep it cool in the refrigerator," Lockhart said.

Picking out what to grill is the easy part.

"The local farmer's markets are starting to pop up. Now's a really great time to go out there and take advantage of all the fresh vegetables and fruits out there," Lockhart said.

Yes, even fruits can be fun to grill. Mix it up, and make it colorful. Lockhart said a variety was picked out to test out recently on the grill.

"Our kabobs have some jerk chicken. We've got some red bell pepper, red onion, fresh pineapple," she said.

They marinated the kabobs with a spicy jerk rub and added fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil to the vegetables. Lockhart said it's easy to lighten up a dish by grilling it, and just spraying a little nonstick cooking spray on the grill so the food doesn't stick. Stricker added that it's good to make your own seasonings for meat and vegetables. That way you can control the sodium and additives that prepackaged spices can have.

Lockhart recommends filling up at least half your plate with those colorful fruits and veggies.

Copyright ©2013 WCHS-TV Eyewitness News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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